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CUSD in major project mode
A number of Ceres Unified School District sites will be transformed over the next 12 to 18 months as part of an ambitious construction program that includes the building of a new junior high school.

Construction projects totaling an estimated $60 million will completed during that time span. The district will use funds from Measure U to complete all of the work. The state will contribute $33 million.

"It's crazy," said CUSD Assistant Supt. of Business Services Fred Van Vleck. "With exception of Los Angeles Unified, we have the most projects on the Office of Public School Construction list. It's all from maximizing the dollar for the Measure U campaign. We turned a $60 million bond from local taxpayers into $160 million worth of projects."

Ceres Unified's third junior high school, named in honor of Cesar Chavez Jr., will open its doors this August. Its total cost is $35 million.

The dedication ceremony will be held on Saturday, May 14 at 11 a.m.

"The gym will be under construction when school starts," Van Vleck said. "We hope to have it finished for basketball season."

A 16-classroom wing will be added between the multi-use and B buildings at Central Valley High School. The $10.8 million improvement will be completed in 18 months. The new building will house 400 students.

The following projects will be completed within a year:

• Adding 14 new classrooms at Walter White School;

• Adding seven new classrooms at Ceres High School;

• Adding four new classrooms at Argus;

• Adding three new classrooms at Virginia Parks;

• Adding a preschool classroom, a staff room and a front office at Don Pedro;

• Adding three new kindergarten classrooms and a library/office complex at La Rosa.

Bruns Belmont and J.L. Bray construction will complete all of the projects under lease-lease back contracts, which will save the district money according to Van Vleck.

Ceres Unified will be providing employment to local contractors.

"It gives us the flexibility to give the taxpayers the biggest bang for their buck," Van Vleck said. "We know we're going to get high-quality projects done for the best value."

CUSD also saved additional money by not hiring project managers. Oversight of construction fell to Van Vleck, Assistant Supt. of Personnel Services Denise Wickham, Director of Maintenance Joe Kissee Assistant Director of Maintenance Keith Gibson and Director of Transportation Ken Hines.

"It's not just me," he said. "We're handling it with our staff in-house. We're being more efficient."